Wine Dinners and Wine Learning: Matthews Estate at Monsoon

"Oh, I don't know anything about wine" or "I just like the kind that gets me drunk" I hear these phrases all the time from my peers, even my most food and flavor obsessed friends. Yet, despite happily dropping $50 on a dinner and another $40 on cocktails in a night, it seems that people my age don't seem to attend wine dinners. Brian Otis, the representative of Matthews Estate and I mulled over this. It strikes us both as disappointing that these opportunities for great food, amazing wines and education are dismissed. I had chosen to accept the free media pass to Monsoon East's Matthews Estate … [Read more...]

Asian Dumplings: A Book Review

If I had to choose my two favorite foods, it would be noodles and meat, so the dumpling is my own personal superfood. Andrea Nguyen, my new hero, has recently written my dream book: Asian Dumplings. Yes, all about dumplings. Oh, dear. I'm drooling already, just thinking about it. When my copy first arrived on the doorstep, thanks to her generous publisher, I opened the box and sat down on the couch. It was ten o'clock at night, I was exhausted, I had just returned from a long dinner meeting and just wanted to relax with my beautiful book. And then I opened the book. My advice for readers of … [Read more...]

Ben Thanh: Vietnamese Beyond the Menu

A blue neon sign astutely states "Lau De" in the window of Ben Thanh, tucked in the armpit of the MLK/Rainier intersection. Literally, this area, with beautiful, imposing and classic Franklin High School to one side and the, bright, modern light rail to the other, looks like a forlorn place. But if you know that 'Lau De' of which the sign speaks, you look a little closer. Traditional Vietnamese goat hot pot, to a person like me, anyway, holds much intrigue. I first came to Ben Thanh in search of a quick meal, low expectations, on a time limit, it was there. While I was vaguely aware that … [Read more...]

Dear Technology: Thanks for Taqueria Juquilita

The whole trip I had made fun of the GPS system, as it led us to longer routes or kept me from speaking up when I did know the way. Then it helped me in a way I never would have guessed: it led me to Taqueria Juquilita in Chehalis, Washington. We had been running the Hood to Coast race, 197 miles from the top of Mt. Hood to the shores of Seaside, and our little van of six people had subsisted on Cheese-It's, Nila Wafers and the occasional Subway stop. My idea to drop by Whiffies Fried Pies was shut down, and I didn't even bother pointing out that the napping station was right next door to … [Read more...]

Kitfo Caprese: Cultures Combined

To understand how I dreamed up such a ridiculous thing as combining Kitfo, an Ethiopian raw steak dish and Caprese salad, the Italian classic, you must understand the level of sleep deprivation I had. A serious eating trip to Vancouver had been completed the previous day and was over 16 hours door to door, including many miles walked and more (delicious) meals than you could shake a stick at. Are you there with me yet? In this tired, half-functional state I decided to go grocery shopping. And not just anywhere, but at the high-falutin Met Market. It wasn't cheap, folks. But why would it be … [Read more...]

The Meat and the Moose

It all added up to me having no desire to go there. I didn't need another "Mexican" breakfast that involved American style egg dishes dressed up in sombrero and sarapi, or their edible equivalents. Sometimes I hear so much about restaurants that I begin to resent them, to make assumptions about them and the people who like them, so much that they cease to have any draw for me. SeƱor Moose in Ballard was one of those places. For a time it seemed like everyone wanted to know, had I been there? Did I know how wonderful their Huevos Ahogados were? Why hadn't I been seen standing in the hour plus … [Read more...]

My Tamales: Tiny and Pork Cheek Filled

My tamales have always had a bit of an inferiority complex, small in stature and slightly misshapen. What they lack in size they make up for with their tiny hourglass shape, stained glass jalapenos and beauty of flavor. When I first learned to make tamales I tried to make the big, traditional ones, I tried to make the creamy banana leaf wrapped ones, and yet the tamales that made me most enjoy both the process of making them (and trust me, if you're going to make them, you want to love it) were these little squirts. A mix between the Southern U.S. style shape and the Mexican style flavors and … [Read more...]

Karama: An Exersice in Ethnic Eating

Being whiter than Weird Al, I often find satisfying my cravings for eats from random ethnicities to be a bit of an exercise in patience and rolling with the punches, though often with delicious rewards. Karama, a new self-described "East-African, Somali, Italian, Mediterranean and American" food restaurant was no different. Usually I will avoid any restaurant that claims to do that many different cuisines, but upon reading the menu and seeing what they offered, I instead rang up my friend M, who lived in Tanzania, and informed her of my findings. We made a date and headed down with our … [Read more...]

Barrio at Brunchtime

When Barrio invited me to come to lunch with B, for free, I paused and then wrote them a quick letter saying I would go but I wouldn't guarantee anything written and if I did I didn't promise to be nice, etc, etc. Then I went to brunch. I kind of hoped it would be bad and I could brush off the whole experience and never think about it again. But it wasn't. It was quite good and fit a very specific niche that B and I need in our lunch world. We walked in the heavy doors at about 9:59 for a 10am reservation (B had biking to do). "We don't open until 10" a hostess told us, rather bluntly. I … [Read more...]

Hunger Challenge Day 4: Risk Taking

The first thing I noticed in shopping for this challenge was that I took less risk in shopping. Normally I pull anything of the shelf and figure out what to do with it later. With the limited amount of money, I was more careful. I'm not really sure why, as I've never run into an issue with experimentation, but it was a reaction to the challenge. Yet as I prepared my dinner for Thursday (I did so Wednesday evening) I took a risk and made a new dish. Knowing that I had a soccer game at 7pm on Thursday, I prepared dinner Wednesday night. With a fridge full of leftover roasted chicken and a ton … [Read more...]